William Olsen

To Anything at All
July 9, 2013 Olsen William

To Anything at All


Our father who is neither ours nor a father but farther and nearer,
Another night is here.

But the trees out there didn’t make up their lives

Any more than I do, and they don’t have a prayer
And if they do

I have no ears.

Something, anything, the woe-begone inside, says
I must go.

No, stay—where did I think I was anyway?

I haven’t finished untying the knotty lies.

And the sky today is wider than the brain,
Like time never was.

Anything at all, you can say anything at all.

You can have me. You can have me. Have me

File the skiv to a key
And from their life-sentences in my childhood house
Free the good drunk,

My mother, then the good butcher,
My father.

Sister, brother. All the way down the hall.
No, no sister, never even had one

But leave her be, please.

Cars crouched like alibis—

Nothing appears to be designed to move

Or even shiver.
It is always the instant before I give myself away.

That comes much later, when the time has always been.

Before I surrender,
I take everything back.

I even pull my fist
Out from the heirloom mirror—

That was nailed to the wall.

I vanished only when I walked away from it.

William Olsen has published six collections of poetry, most recently TechnoRage, Northwestern, 2017. His work has received the Norma Farber Award, the Poetry, Northwest Theodore Roethke Prize, the Crazyhorse Prize; and fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts, and Breadloaf. Olsen teaches at Western Michigan University, and edits New Issues Poetry and Prose.